Part 1 showed that God will not share his glory with anyone or anything, but we “fall short” of giving God the glory he is due (Romans 3:23). We plagiarize his glory by taking his glory and applying it to someone other than God, usually ourselves. In this part we will examine some of the areas in which God is glorified and how in each area fallen man refuses to give God the glory he deserves.
God is glorified through his creation, but as we see in chapter one of Romans (Romans 1:18-32), man refuses to acknowledge him as Creator. Theories of evolution are so prevalent because if there is no Creator then there is no one to whom we are accountable. Sinful men close their ears to the voice of creation. David proclaims,
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
(Psalm 19:1-4a ESV)
Creation shouts that there is a glorious Creator. Even the heavenly realms glorify God as the Creator.
Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.
(Revelation 4:11 ESV)
Some acknowledge God as Creator but think God created because he was lonely or because he needed to express his love. This also steals God’s glory because God is complete in himself and needs nothing (Acts 17:25). God created to display his eternal power and divine nature (Romans 1:20). He created to display his glory.
Wrath and Justice
God is glorified by his wrath and justice, but fallen man does not want to acknowledge sin much less the payment required for sin. The truth that his wrath and justice glorify him is not always popular, even in the church. If God’s wrath is acknowledged at all, many think it is some type of last resort. If love doesn’t work then God will have to settle for wrath. This is not the case. He is dispensing his wrath now to his glory.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)
Romans 9:22-23 says God desires to show his wrath and make known his power to the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. He desires to show his wrath on judgment day because he is glorified by his wrath; however he delays his final judgment “in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy.” In Revelation 11 when the angel sounds the seventh trumpet God is worshiped because he exercises his wrath and justice.
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
(Revelation 11:15-18 ESV)
Note, though, the fact that God is glorified by his wrath does not mean God takes pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), or that Jesus’s remorse over Jerusalem was not real (Matthew 23:37). God is glorified by his wrath because it is the proper exercise of his judgment against sin. His holiness requires judgment against sin and evil, and this judgment of sin and evil glorifies him.
Grace, Love, and Mercy
God is glorified by the grace, love, and mercy he shows his people, but fallen man demands to merit God’s favor. In Mark 10:17 the man asks Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The Pharisees ask Jesus in John 6:28, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” We are more interested in what we need to do than in what Christ has done. In his letter to the Galatians, though, Paul proclaims that works justify no one.
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16 ESV)
Paul gives glory to God in Ephesians 1:3-14 for God’s grace and love. He begins by giving glory to God, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” then verses 4 through 6 say in love God predestines us for adoption “to the praise of his glorious grace.” Verse 12 says those who are in Christ are to “be to the praise of his glory.” The Holy Spirit guarantees our inheritance “to the praise of his glory” (verse 14). In chapter 2 of Ephesians Paul says God is rich in mercy, and he ties God’s mercy to love and grace.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)
Also, we saw above in Romans 9:23 that God wants to make known the “riches of his glory for vessels of mercy.” By his grace, love, and mercy God creates a people that will forever bring him glory.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
God fully accomplishes the salvation of his people to ensure he gets all the glory. Man insists on getting in on the action, though, either by adding supposedly meritorious works or his own faith. As Paul told the Corinthians no one will boast before God since “because of him” (that is, God), we are in Christ.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31 ESV)
The KJV translates the end of verse 31 as “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” When it comes to salvation, we cannot claim any of God’s glory for ourselves.
God is glorified by our preordained, Spirit-empowered good works, but fallen man wants to offer works of the flesh. Works of the flesh are works done to gain God’s favor. Jesus very clearly rejects these works.
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)
“Mighty works” do not glorify God, but Jesus says good works do.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 ESV)
Of course, because God does not give his glory to another (Isaiah 42:8 and Isaiah 48:11), God ensures we will have good works that glorify him. Ephesians 2:8-9 proclaims God’s sovereignty over our salvation, but the next verse proclaims God’s sovereignty over our good works. He predestined the works that glorify him.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
In Revelation 19 where the marriage supper of the Lamb is described fine linen is granted (or given) to the bride (representing the church) for her clothing, and the fine linen represents the righteous works of God’s people.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
(Revelation 19:7-8 ESV)
Also, he works in us so what we do is pleasing to him.
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 ESV)
Only God-ordained works done by us because of Christ’s finished work glorify the Father. All other works are for our glory.
God is glorified now and will be forever glorified through his Son, Jesus. We rightly rejoice in the fact that the second person of the Trinity put on flesh to redeem sinful man. But our redemption was not the ultimate purpose of the incarnation. The ultimate purpose was to glorify Jesus and through him to glorify the Father.
To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:27 ESV)
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18 ESV)
To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:25 ESV)
At best sinful man calls Jesus a great teacher or example, and at worst sinful man calls Jesus irrelevant, but one day everyone will call him Lord to God’s glory.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11 ESV)
To God Alone Be the Glory
God alone is worthy of all glory and honor. Anything God honoring that we do is because of the grace of God. There is no area in which God does his part and we independently do our part. All that we do is ordained and empowered by God himself so he gets ultimate credit and glory. He does not tolerate plagiarism of his glory. We will forever glorify the one from whom are all things, through whom are all things, and to whom are all things.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36 ESV)
Soli Deo Gloria!